Orthopedic and dental implants manifest increased failure rates when inserted into low density bone. We determined whether chemical pretreatments of a titanium alloy implant material stimulated new bone formation to increase osseointegration in vivo in trabecular bone using a rat model. Titanium alloy rods were untreated or pretreated with heat (600°C) or radiofrequency plasma glow discharge (RFGD). The rods were then coated with the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin (1 nM) or left uncoated and surgically implanted into the rat femoral medullary cavity. Animals were euthanized 3 or 6 weeks later, and femurs were removed for analysis. The number of trabeculae in contact with the implant surface, surface contact between trabeculae and the implant, and the length and area of bone attached to the implant were measured by histomorphometry. Implant shear strength was measured by a pull-out test. Both pretreatments and fibronectin enhanced the number of trabeculae bonding with the implant and trabeculae-to-implant surface contact, with greater effects of fibronectin observed with pretreated compared to untreated implants. RFGD pretreatment modestly increased implant shear strength, which was highly correlated (r2 = 0.87–0.99) with measures of trabecular bonding for untreated and RFGD-pretreated implants. In contrast, heat pretreatment increased shear strength 3–5-fold for both uncoated and fibronectin-coated implants at 3 and 6 weeks, suggesting a more rapid increase in implant-femur bonding compared to the other groups. In summary, our findings suggest that the heat and RFGD pretreatments can promote the osseointegration of a titanium alloy implant material. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2363–2374, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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